View Full Version : Finest brushes?

05-09-2001, 01:54 PM
What is the finest quality brush I can buy to use with acrylics? What type of hair?

My cheap ones are dead already, so I'm going to 'splash out'. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif


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05-09-2001, 02:54 PM
I like good-quality bristle brushes. Even though "acrylic brushes" are synthetic -- and I suppose there's a reason for that (ease of cleanup, etc.) -- I just don't enjoy using them because they separate into clumps while you're painting. Start using one, and in a couple of minutes I have to change to bristle (or sometimes sable for details).


05-09-2001, 03:19 PM
Hi Helen,

You can use any brush that works for you. And because acrylic on canvas can be brutal on brushes, your brushes will wear down, no matter what kind they are. But given care while painting, they will last as long as possible.

The most widely recommended brushes for acrylics are good quality synthetic ones. They have come a long way and are more durable than ever before. They also hold more moisture than they used to.

The next are Hogshair brushes (bristle brushes) and are generally the most economical. They can hold a great deal of paint and can generate texture on the surface.

The authentic sables are among the most expensive, finest and softest available. Depending on your style, subject and whether you have a soft or hard touch will determine how the brush will hold up. And keeping the brush moist while working is essential (but you probably already know about that http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

I use primarily sables and synthetics even though I go through them fairly quickly.

I recommending trying a selection of brushes to see what works best for you http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif


L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
2001/2002 Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

Kevin M
05-09-2001, 04:03 PM
Synthetics are the way to go with acrylics. Good quality nylon brushes are hard to beat and, because there easy to replace , you dont feel guilty abusing them. Echoing Diane's comments, for fine details, have a few treasured sables but dont discard your worn out synthetics. The larger ones, in particular, are fine for scumbling (dry glazing).

05-09-2001, 05:30 PM
Helen: The synthetics I got for use with acrylics have been the best quality (or at least the highest prices). Not using cheesy merchandise, and I still don't like them, but some people obviously do.


05-10-2001, 04:53 PM
Thanx for the wonderful advice everyone! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif


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Keith Russell
05-11-2001, 05:13 PM
Good grief!

I use mainly small detail brushes in my work, because the larger areas are painted with airbrush. But, I do use them quite regularly, and they are mainly sable or squirrel.

I paint on smooth-as-glass illustration board, so I don't have the texture of canvas fighting against my brushes.

But, my brushes don't seem to wear out all that often.

I clean them in a solution of one part ammonia, three parts distilled water, and have few problems with them.

Some of my favourite brushes are nearly a decade old, and are even now showing few signs of wear.


Keith Russell
Synthetic Sky Studios
Science Fiction Fine Art
[email protected]

05-12-2001, 09:02 PM
Well Keith, you more or less brought up the issue that counts...that is, the surface used when using acrylics.

Also...the effect one wants.

I find to imitate an oil appearance including impasto...hog bristel brushes are the best. I want spring in the brush, but not much. I put paint on the tip, and paint the "paint" ...not taking 3-6 strokes to where the brush might remove paint. Two to three strokes, and back for more paint. IN this case..the brush is like a version of a painting knife.

The brush must keep its shape, and hairs must not fall out all over the place.

If I'm painting thin...and multiple layers, and the desire is not a painterly piece such as I'll strive for with bristles but more highly rendered images...I want synthetics.

Rounds for details..flats for larger broad areas...also for mixing color with water to do instant glazes.

With thicker impasto'ish painterly acrylic paintings..I can use nearly anything- my finger, a stick, old oil bristle brushes, my painting knife. Better synthetic brushes that hold shape, do not leave their impression 'cept that of the paint...for the more realistic approach where the viewer is invited to look up quite close.


The "Artsmentor"

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas